Friday, May 02, 2014

Marvels: Journey Into Mystery #97

"The Lava Man" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Don Heck
(October 1963)

Thor's latest villain, the Lava Man, is one of a race of ancient creatures living in dormant volcanoes across the Earth. This one, released by Loki to cause havoc, is actually a credible threat to Thor (who has dealt with some pretty lame villains in his title) and potentially very interesting. He wants the planet for the Lava Men alone, even as Thor tries to convince him that the universe is very large and there is a place for everyone to live in peace.

The Lava Man, however, really only exists as something for Thor to really sink his frustrations into. The real story here is about Donald Blake and his unrequited love for Jane. With Stan Lee back on scripting duties, he wants to re-establish that as a motivation for Dr. Blake, and this time he comes close to telling Jane he loves her. He still can't tell her the truth about also being Thor, as per Odin's edict, but he can express his love as Blake. Unfortunately, he loses his nerve at the last second. Thor even asks Odin again for permission to marry Jane, which is denied. For at least one panel, Blake even considers just giving up his life as Thor in order to marry Jane.

Jane's feelings are pretty clear--she's been in love with him this whole time--and now that she's been rejected, she's going to work for one of Dr. Blake's rivals, Dr. Bruce Andrews. It's kind of a weird move--Blake characterizes Andrews as a wolf who's been trying to get Jane out for a date, so I don't know why you'd want to work for that guy--but she's got to move on.

(Also: overworked Stan originally gives this guy the name "Basil Andrews," but then switches it to "Bruce" with no explanation. Oops.)

So when the Lava Man shows up, Thor is certainly ready to fight. The fight itself is pretty spectacular, and Thor re-imprisons the Lava Man inside a dormant volcano. But after all of that, the sting of losing Jane makes his victory a hollow one.

Stray observations:

:: Thor is really wary about letting people crowd around him, lest they discover his secret identity. Since his secret identity is literally that of a separate human being, I'm not really sure how they could... Still not digging this secret identity deal for Thor.

:: The art this issue is credited to Kirby as penciler and Don Heck as inker, but looking through the story, I'd say that Kirby just laid down a few poses and Heck did most of the art himself, especially the romance stuff. Hell, Kirby's pretty damn busy. And Heck's art looks pretty darn good here, too.

This Jane looks like a combination of both artists, though. I just really like this image and wanted to point it out. Jane has especially pretty hair.

And now, a second story:

"Tales of Asgard" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & George Roussos

This is actually the first installment of the Tales of Asgard series, in which Stan & Jack will retell legends of Norse mythology, which definitively exists in the Marvel Universe. This one is mainly an introduction, five brief pages explaining the beginning of Asgard and the eternal struggle between the Aesir and the Frost Giants, starting with the births of Ymir and Buri, father of Borr, father of Odin.

Like I said, it's an intro, but the beginning of one of my favorite things in the Marvel Universe. Stan Lee gets all flowery and grand with the language, and Jack Kirby gets to let the art go a little bit more, starting to define the cosmology of the Marvel Universe.

There's going to be so much more, and it's going to be pretty amazing.

Next Marvels: Johnny Storm deals with puppy love and plants.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

Yes, she is pretty,